Being Apart – A Part of Being

Today (Easter Monday) I’m flying off to Riga to continue my work with the Latvian Government on smart use of social media and how to build an effective online presence for their tenure of the EU Presidency in 2015. I’m excited. Riga is the 2014 European Capital of Culture and when I’m not working, I look forward to exploring the city.

I love my work. I love where it takes me, and how it challenges me too. And I miss being away from home – a lot. I’m not complaining, just acknowledging that for me, home is where the heart is. So when we are all here, at home together, we try and make the most of it.

Euan Semple wrote something about proper days off on Facebook last week and he’s kindly agreed I can share it with you here.

Proper days off

When she heard that I was flying home on a Saturday a friend of my wife’s response was “Oh do they make you work on a Saturday”. My head went numb as I struggled with who “they” might be, the idea of “making” me do something, and trying to remember what Saturday used to mean as compared to the rest of the week.

The freelance life challenges many of our assumptions about work. It is unpredictable, has fuzzy edges, and there is no “them” telling you what to do. It calls on a steely nerve, for the times when work isn’t coming in, and considerable self discipline to maintain a balance between work and non-work. Especially working from home the lines can get very blurred. Add to this the fact that I love what I do and there is a real risk of working all the time.

I am aware that my photos on Facebook can give the impression that I am always having fun but that’s because the bad bits are less photogenic! I climb hills and take the chance when I am here to do things with my family to really turn off my work head. To make sure that I have proper days off.

The past few days have been spent as family time. We’ve shopped together, done some painting and decorating together (without too much arguing – honestly!), played together, eaten together, and laughed together. You can’t really call it a weekend because all this fun started last Wednesday, and for now, Easter Sunday is where it stops.

Proper days off. They don’t have to be a Saturday, a Sunday or even a Bank Holiday Monday. They just need to be invested in when the chance comes along. See you soon.

What Did You Do Before

The old man sat next to me on the slow train into London. Like so many others on board I was passing time staring at a tiny screen.

The old man asked, ‘What did you do before you had a mobile phone?’ ‘I stared out of the window, read, sketched, wrote and sometimes talked’ I said, and so, twenty five minutes before reaching Victoria station, our conversation began.

The old man studied American history, ‘Abraham Lincoln forever, and all that,’ he said. Turns out he’s a Packers fan and so we talked of American football, cheese heads, Vikings, Broncos, Seahawks, Raiders and more. ‘I’ve never been to the United States’ the old man told me, and I explained that’s where I was journeying to. ‘I like the sound of Baton Rouge, it has a nice name’, he said. Somewhat surprised I replied ‘that’s where I’m heading.’

We talked about the trip I took to New York City with my late father. I told the old man about the sights we saw and added, ‘we even went to see the ice hockey.’ ‘The Rangers?’ Asked the old man. ‘Indeed’ I said, and we spoke of sport and our separate experiences of listening to US forces radio bouncing crackly live signals from various sports on the medium wave.

With Victoria approaching, and with twenty five minutes passing like twenty five seconds, we shook hands and wished each other well. He continued his journey to the midlands to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Peterborough, and I headed for the airport, to catch my flight to Baton Rouge.

What did you do before you had a mobile phone?